You can find a longer healthier life in the swimming pool of your local gym. You can find fitness at a YMCA Zumba class. You can also find friends and wellness by moving metal with other seniors at an American Family Fitness Senior’s club.
“Patients that exercise sleep better, they’re healthier. And those with chronic diseases do better if they’re active and fit,” Kerr said.
Dr. Kerr believes exercise and being active, even at an advanced age, can do wonders for you physically.
“Weight bearing activities, done on a regular basis, are going to increase or promote the amount of calcium that’s deposited into bones, so it absolutely is critical,” Kerr said.
According to the National Council on Aging, physically inactive seniors are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are active.
Inactivity is also linked to diabetes and colon cancer as well as reduced muscle strength and mass. In time, that can lead to a person not being physically able to take care of themselves.
“You go from Pampers to Grampers, from young age to old age. I don’t want that,” Hanover County’s J. Robert Edwards told CBS 6 anchor Rob Cardwell.
Edwards never worried much about his health, until he reached age 76. He’d ballooned to an unhealthy 245 lbs.
“When I would get up in the morning, the bottoms of my feet would hurt. It would hurt to walk across the floor. I just thought ‘this weight has gotta go,’” he said.
After getting a checkup, Robert found Eric Frank, a Richmond-based personal trainer, online at Atomicweightloss.com.
Over three months, Eric slowly ramped up Robert’s exercise routine, concentrating on increasing his aerobic ability and core strength.
“The first day that we trained together, after about five minutes, he said he needed a break,” Eric said. “Now he’s able to go for about 25 to 30 minutes, which I think is incredible.”
Robert, who is now down to 200 lbs., can cut his grass with a push mower for two hours without stopping.
Robert is getting results, but is he getting his money’s worth?
“I thought, ‘Can I afford this?’ Well, really I can’t, but I can’t afford doctors either. Consider all your co-payments, your prescriptions, time to go to the doctor, your gas for your automobile. It’s not a whole lot of difference.”
In a study published by the American Medical Association, older adults who visited a health club for two days or more a week over a two-year period saved over $1,200 a year compared to seniors who didn’t exercise.
Exercise also reduces the risk of early mortality by up to 40 percent. Robert will tell you that you don’t have to lift heavy dumbbells to get started.
“When you’re eating your potatoes and gravy, at least get a heavier fork to lift it with,” Robert said. “You can come up with something to help yourself.”
Dr. Kerr says he loves to hear stories like Robert’s.
“It’s the best part of my day honestly, to have a patient that comes back and says ‘I took your advice and things are getting better,” Kerr said.